The New York Times, with the help of Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, reports as fact what I suspected yesterday: Israel’s Mossad was responsible for the assassination of a Syrian rocket scientist. Confirmation came from “a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency,” which sure sounds like the return address of a Mossad message.
The scientist reportedly working on “production of precision-guided missiles in Syria by retrofitting heavy Syrian SM600 Tishreen rockets.” Perhaps the greatest strategic threat Israel faces is an arsenal of Iranian-made short-range missiles in Lebanon, which are controlled by Iran’s ally, Hezbollah. As Bashar al-Assad’s government has gained the upper hand in the country’s long-running civil war, Iran has consolidated its position in the region.
The Iranians, along with the Russians, played a key role in helping Assad turn the tide in a war he was losing in 2015. The Iranians both vanquished the Sunni fundamentalists forces (funded by arch-rival Saudi Arabia), and strengthened their defenses against Israel (which invaded Lebanon in 1982 and bombed it extensively in 2007. )
Israel is seeking to roll back Iran’s gains, and assassination is one tool to that end.